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To this brief description of marriage-ceremonies, it will be necessary to subjoin some account of those which accompanied the mere rustic wedding, or Bride-ale; and fortunately we have a most curious picture of the kind preserved by Laneham, in his "Letter on the Queen's Entertainment at Kenelworth Castle," in 1575, one part of which was the representation of a country Bride-ale set in order in the Tilt-yard, and exhibited in the great court of the castle. This grotesque piece of pageantry, a faithful draught of rural costume, as it then existed, must have afforded Her Majesty no small degree of amusement.

"Thus were they marshalled. First, all the lustie lads and bold bachelors of the parish, suitably every wight with his blue buckram bridelace and a branch of green broom (cause rosemary is scant there) tied on his left arm (for a that side lies the heart), and his alder poll for a spear in his right hand, in martial order ranged on afore, two and two in a rank: Some with a hat, some in a cap, some a coat, some a jerkin, some for lightness in his doublet and his hose, clean trust with a point afore: Some boots and no spurs, he spurs and no boots, and he neither one nor fother: One a saddle, another a pad or a pannel fastened with a cord, for girts wear geazon: And these to the number of a sixteen wight riding men 'and well beseem: But the bridegroom foremost, in his father's tawny worsted jacket (for his friends were fain that he should be a bridegroom before the Queen), a fair straw hat with a capital crown, steeple-wise on his head: a pair of harvest gloves on his hands, as a sign of good husbandry: A pen and inkhorn at his back; for he would be known to be bookish: lame of a leg, that in his youth was broken at football: Well beloved yet of his mother, that lent him a new mufflar for a napkin that was tied to his girdle for losing. It was no small sport to mark this minion in his full appointment, that through good schoolation became as formal in his action, as he had been a bridegroom indeed; with this special grace by the way, that ever as he would have framed him the better countenance, with the worse face he looked.

"Well, Sir, after these horsemen, a lively morrice-dance, according to the ancient manner; six dancers, maid-marian, and the fool. Then three pretty puzels, (maids or damsels, from pucelle) as bright as a breast of bacon, of a thirty year old a piece, that carried three special spice-cakes of a bushel of wheat (they had it by measure out of my Lords backhouse), before the bride: Cicely with set countinance, and lips so demurely simpering, as it had been a mare cropping of a thistle. After these a lovely lubber woorts,* freckle-faced, red-headed, clean trussed in his doublet and his hose taken up now indeed by commission, for that he was so loth to come forward, for reverence belike of his new cut canvass doublet; and would by his good will have been but a gazer, but found to be a meet actor for his office: That was to bear the bride-cup, formed of a sweet sucket barrel, a faire-turned foot set to it, all seemly besilvered and parcel gilt, adorned with a beautiful branch of broom, gayly begilded for rosemary; from which two broad bride laces of red and yellow buckeram begilded, and gallantly streaming by such wind as there was, for he carried it aloft : This gentle cup-bearer yet had his freckled physiognomy somewhat unhappily infested as he went, by the busy flies, that flocked about the bride-cup for the sweetness of the sucket that it savoured on but he, like a tall fellow, withstood their malice stoutly (see what manhood may do), beat them away, killed them by scores, stood to his charge, and marched on in order.

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"Then followed the worshipful bride, led (after the country manner) between two ancient parishioners, honest townsmen. But a stale stallion, and a well spred, (hot as the weather was) God wot, and ill smelling was she; a thirty-five year old, of colour brown-bay, not very beautiful indeed, but ugly, foul, ill favoured; yet marvellous vain of the office, because she heard say she should dance before the Queen, in which feat she thought she would foot it as finely as the best : Well, after this bride, came there by two and two, a dozen damsels for bride-maids; that for favor, attyre, for fashion and cleanliness, were as meet for such a bride as a treen-ladle for a porridge-pot; more (but for fear of carrying all clean) had been appointed, but these few were enow."†

From a passage in Ben Jonson's " Tale of a Tub," we learn that the dress of the downright rustic, on his wedding day, was as follows:

"He had on a lether doublet, with long points,

And a paire of pin'd-up breech's, like pudding bags :
With yellow stockings, and his hat turn'd up
With a silver claspe, on his leere side."‡

* Woorts; of this word I know not the precise meaning; bnt suppose it is meant to imply plodded or stumbled on.

Nichols's Queen Elizabeth's Progresses, vol. i.-Lancham's Letter, p. 18, 19, 20.

Jonson's Works, fol. edit. of 1640, vol. ii. A Tale of a Tub, p. 72.- Much of the spirit and costume

Of the ceremonies attendant on Christenings, it will be necessary to mention two that prevailed at this period, and which have since fallen into disuse. Shakspeare, who generally transfers the customs of his own times to those periods of which he is treating, represents Henry VIII. saying to Cranmer, whom he had appointed Godfather to Elizabeth,

"Come, come, my lord, you'd spare your spoons ;" and again in the dialogue between the porter and his man :

Act. v. sc. 2.

"Port. On my christian conscience, this one christening will beget a thousand; here will be father, godfather, and all together.


The spoons will be the bigger, sir."

Act. v. sc. 3.

In the days of Elizabeth and her predecessor, Mary, it was usual for the sponsors at christenings to present the child with silver spoons gilt, on the handles of which were engraved the figures of the apostles, whence they were commonly called apostle-spoons : thus Ben Jonson in "Bartholomew Fair;" "and all this for the hope of two apostle-spoons, to suffer." The opulent frequently gave a complete set of spoons, namely, the twelve apostles; those less rich, selected the four evangelists, and the poorer class were content to offer a single spoon, or, at most, stwo, on which were carved their favourite saint or saints.

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Among the higher ranks, in the reign of Henry VIII. the practice at christenings was to give cups or bowls of gold or silver. Accordingly Holinshed, describing the christening of Elizabeth, relates that "the archbishop of Canturburie gave to the princesse a standing cup of gold: the dutches of Norfolke gave to her a standing cup of gold, fretted with pearle : the marchionesse of Dorset gave three gilt bolles, pounced with a cover and the marchionesse of Excester gave three standing bolles graven, all gilt with a cover." †

In the Harleian MS. Vol. 6395, occurs a scarce pamphlet, entitled "Merry Passages and Jeasts," from which Dr. Birch transcribed the following curious anecdote, as illustrative both of the custom of offering spoons, and of the intimacy which subsisted between Shakspeare and Jonson. "Shakspeare," says the author of this collection, who names Donne as his authority for the story," was godfather to one of Ben Jonson's children, and after the christening, being in deepe study, Jonson came to cheer him up, and ask'd him why he was so melancholy: No 'faith, Ben, says he, not I; but I have been considering a great while what should be the fittest gift for me to bestow upon my godchild, and I have resolved

of the rural wedding of the sixteenth century continued to survive until within these eighty years, " have received," says Mr. Brand, who wrote in 1776," from those who have been present at them, the following account of the customs used at vulgar Northern Weddings, about half a century ago:

"The young women in the neighbourhood, with bride-favours (knots of ribbands) at their breasts, and nosegays in their hands, attended the Bride on her wedding-day in the morning.-Fore-Riders announced with shouts the arrival of the Bridegroom; after a kind of breakfast, at which the bride-cakes were set and the barrels broached, they walked out towards the church.-The Bride was led by two young men; the Bridegroom by two young women: Pipers preceded them, while the crowd tossed up their hats, shouted and clapped their hands. An indecent custom prevailed after the ceremony, and that too before the altar -Young men strove who could first unloose, or rather pluck off the Bride's garters: Ribbands supplied their place on this occasion; whosoever was so fortunate as to tear them thus off from her leggs, bore them about the church in triumph.

"It is still usual for the young men present to salute the Bride immediately after the performing of the marriage service.

"Four, with their horses, were waiting without: they saluted the Bride at the church gate, and imme diately mounting, contended who should first carry home the good news, and WIN what they call the kail:" i. e. a smoking prize of spice-broth, which stood ready prepared to reward the victor in this singular kind of race.

"Dinner succeeded; to that dancing and supper; after which a posset was made, of which the Bride and Bridegroom were always to taste first.-The men departed the room till the Bride was undressed by het maids, and put to bed; the Bridegroom in his turn was undressed by his men, and the ceremony concluded with the well-known rite of throwing the stocking."-Bourne's Antiquitates Vulg. apud Brand, p. 371, 372, 373. edit. 1810

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Ben Jonson's Works, fol. edit. 1640. vol. ii. p. 6.

† Holinshed's Chronicles, vol. iii. p. 787. edit. 1808.

at last. I pr'ythee what? says he.-I'faith, Ben, I'll give him a douzen good latten (Latin) spoons, and thou shalt translate them."* It was not until the close of the seventeenth century, that this practice of spoon-giving at christenings ceased as a general custom.

Another baptismal ceremony, now laid aside, was the use of the chrisome, or white cloth, which was put on the child after the performance of the sacred rite. To this usage Dame Quickly alludes in describing the death of Falstaff, though, in accordance with her character, she corrupts the term: "A made a finer end, and went away, an it had been any christom child." +

Previous to the Reformation, oil was used, as well as water, in baptism, or rather a kind of mixture of oil and balsam, which in the Greek was called Xpioμa; hence the white cloth worn on this occasion, as an emblem of purity, was denominated the chrismale or chrism-cloth. During the era of using this holy unction, with which the priest made the sign of the cross, on the breast, shoulders, and head of the child, the chrismale was worn only for seven days, as symbolical, it is said, of the seven ages of life; but after the Reformation, the oil being omitted, it was kept on the child until the purification of the mother, when, after the ceremony of churching, it was returned to the minister, by whom it had been originally supplied. If the child died during the month of wearing the chrisomecloth, it was buried in it, and children thus situated were called in the bills of mortality chrisoms. This practice, which was common in the days of Shakspeare, continued in use for nearly a century afterwards; for Blount in his "Glossography," 1678, explains the word chrisoms as meaning such children as die within the month of birth, because during that time they use to wear the chrisomcloth.


We shall now proceed to consider some of the peculiarities accompanying the Funeral Rites of this period; and, in the first place, we shall notice the passingbell. This was rung at an early era of the church, to solicit the prayers of all good christians for the welfare of the soul passing into another world: thus Durandus, who wrote towards the close of the twelfth century, says: 'Verum aliquo moriente, campanæ debent pulsari, ut populus hoc audiens, oret pro illo:" when any one is dying, the bells must be tolled, that the people may put up their prayers for him." S This custom of ringing a bell for a soul just departing, which is now relinquished, the bell only tolling after death, we have reason to believe was still observed in Shakspeare's time; for he makes Northumberland in King Henry IV. remark on the "bringer of unwelcome news," that

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Another benefit formerly supposed to be derived from the sounding of the passing-bell, and which, from the scene of Cardinal Beaufort's death, was probably a part of Shakspeare's creed, consisted in the discomfiture of the evil spirits, who were supposed to surround the bed of the dying person; and who, terrified by the tolling of the holy bell, were compelled to keep aloof; accordingly Durandus mentions it as one of the effects of bell-ringing, "ut dæmones timentes** fugiant ;" and in the Golden Legende, printed by Wynkyn de Worde, 1498, it is observed that "the evil spirytes that ben in the regyon of the ayre, doubte moche when

L'Estrange, a nephew to Sir Roger L'Estrange, appears to have been the compiler of these anecdotes. Of the truth of the story, however, as far as it relates to Shak-peare and Jonson, there is reason to enter

tain much doubt.

Act ii. sc 3.

Vide Douce's Illustrations, vol. i. p. 488.

$ Vide Rationale Divinorum Officiorum: the first edition was printed in 1459.

Durandi Rational. lib. i. c. 4.

they here the bells rongen: and this is the cause why the belles ben rongen-to the ende that the feindes and wycked spirytes shold be abashed and flee.'

That these opinions, indeed, relative to the passing-bell, continued to prevail, as things of general belief, during the greater part of the seventeenth century, is evident from the works of the pious Bishop Taylor, in which are to be found several forms of prayer for the souls of the departing, to be offered up during the tolling of the passing-bell. In these the violence of Hell is deprecated, and it is petitioned that the spirits of darkness may be driven far from the couch of the dying sinner. +

So common, indeed, was this practice, that almost every individual had an exclamation or form of prayer ready to be recited on hearing the passing-bell, whence the following proverbial rhyme :

"When the Bell begins to toll

Cry, Lord have mercy on the soul."

In the "Vittoria Corombona" of Webster, this custom is alluded to in a manner singularly wild and striking. Cornelia says:


I'll give you a saying which my grand-mother

Was wont, when she heard the bell, to sing o'er unto her lute.
Ham. Do an you will, do.


Call for the robin-red-breast, and the wren,
Since o'er shady groves they hover,
And with leaves and flowers do cover
The friendless bodies of unburied men.

Call unto his funeral dole

The ant, the field-mouse, and the mole,
To raise him hillocks that shall keep him warm,
And (when gay tombs are robb'd) sustain no harm,
But keep the wolf far thence: that's foe to men,
For with his nails he'll dig them up again."

Ancient British Drama, vol. iii. p. 41.

Even so late as the commencement of the eighteenth century, it appears that this custom of praying during the passing-bell still lingered in some parts of the country; for Mr. Bourne, the first edition of whose book was published in 1725, after vindicating the practice, adds,-" I know several religious families in this place (Newcastle), and I hope it is so in other places too, who always observe it, whenever the melancholy season offers; and therefore it will at least sometimes happen, when we put up our prayers constantly at the tolling of the bell, that we shall pray for a soul departing. And though it be granted, that it will oftener happen otherwise, as the regular custom is so little followed; yet that can be no harmful praying for the dead."‡

Immediately after death a ceremony commenced, the most offensive part of which has not been laid aside for more than half a century. This was called the Licke or Lake-wake, a term derived from the Anglo-Saxon Lic, a corpse, and Wacce, a wake or watching. It originally consisted of a meeting of the friends and relations of the deceased, for the purpose of watching by the body from the moment it ceased to breathe, to its exportation to the grave; a duty which was at first performed with solemnity and piety, accompanied by the singing of psalms and the recitation of the virtues of the dead. It speedily, however, degenerated into a scene of levity, of feasting, and intoxication; to such a degree, indeed, that it was thought necessary at a provincial synod held in London during the reign of Edward III. to issue a canon for the restriction of the watchers to the near relations and most intimate friends of the deceased, and only to such of these as

For an account of three editions of De Worde's Golden Legende, see Dibdin's Typographical Antiquit. vol. ii. p. 73. These forms of prayer are transcribed by Bourne in his Antiquitates Vulgares.-Vide Brand's edit. 10. Bishop Taylor died in 1667.


Bourne apud Brand, p. 9.

offered to repeat a fixed number of psalms for the benefit of his soul.* To this regulation little attention, we apprehend, was paid; for the Lake-wake appears to have been observed as a meeting of revelry during the whole of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; and Mr. Bourne, so late as the year 1725, declares, that it was then "a scene of sport and drinking and lewdness."†

In Scotland during the period of which we are treating, and even down to the rebellion of 1745, the Lake-wake was observed with still greater form and effect than in England, though not often with a better moral result. Mr. Pennant describing it, when speaking of the Highland customs, under the mistaken etymology of Late-wakes, says, that the evening after the death of any person, the relations or friends of the deceased met at the house, attended by a bag-pipe or fiddle; the nearest of kin, be it wife, son, or daughter, opened a melancholy ball, dancing and greeting, i. e. crying violently, at the same time; and this continued till day-light, but with such gambols and frolics among the younger part of the company, that the loss which occasioned them was often more than supplied by the consequences of that night. Mrs. Grant, however, in her lately published work on the Superstitions of the Highlanders, has given us a more favourable account of this ancient custom, which she has connected with a wild traditionary tale of much moral interest.


A peasant of Glen Banchar, a dreary and secluded recess in the central Highlands, Was fortunate in all respects but one. He had three very fine children, who all, in succession, died after having been weaned, though, before, they gave every promise of health and firmness. Both parents were much afflicted; but the father's grief was clamorous and unmanly. They resolved that the next should be suckled for two years, hoping, by this, to avoid the repetition of such a misfortune. They did so; and the child, by living longer, only took a firmer hold of their affections, and furnished more materials for sorrowful recollection. At the close of the second year, he followed his brothers; and there were no bounds to the affliction of the parents.

"There are, however, in the economy of Highland life, certain duties and courtesies which are indispensable; and for the omission of which nothing can apologise. One of those is, to call in all their friends, and feast them at the time of the greatest family distress. The death of the child happened late in spring, when sheep were abroad in the more inhabited straths; but, from the blasts in that high and stormy region, were still confined to the cot. In a dismal snowy

evening, the man, unable to stifle his anguish, went out, lamenting aloud, for a lamb to treat his friends with at the Late-wake. At the door of the cot, however, he found a stranger standing before the entrance. He was astonished, in such a night, to meet a person so far from any frequented place. The stranger was plainly attired; but had a countenance expressive of singular mildness and benevolence, and, addressing him in a sweet, impressive voice, asked him what he did there amidst the tempest. He was filled with awe, which he could not account for, and said, that he came for a lamb. 'What kind of lamb do you mean to take?' said the stranger. The very best I can find,' he replied, as it is to entertain my friends; and I hope you will share of it.''Do your sheep make any resistance when you take away the lamb, or any disturbance afterwards ?'- Never,' was the answer. 'How differently am I treated!' said the traveller. When I come to visit my sheepfold, I take, as I am well entitled to do, the best lamb to myself; and my ears are filled with clamour of discontent by these ungrateful sheep, whom I have fed, watched, and protected.'

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"He looked up in amaze; but the vision was fled. He went however for the lamb, and brought it home with alacrity. He did more: It was the custom of these times—a custom, indeed, which was not extinct till after 1745-for people to dance at Late-wakes. It was a mournful kind of movement, but still it was dancing. The nearest relation of the deceased often began the ceremony weeping; but did, however, begin it, to give the example of fortitude and resignation. This man, on other occasions, had been quite unequal to the performance of this duty; but at this time he, immediately on coming in, ordered music to begin, and danced the solitary measure appropriate to such occasions. The reader must have very little sagacity or knowledge of the purport and consequences of visions, who requires to be told, that many sons were born, lived, and prospered afterwards in this reformed family." S

Collier's Ecclesiastical History, vol. i. p. 546.
Antiquitates Vulgares apud Brand, P. 23.

Tour in Scotland.

Essays on the Superstitions of the Highlanders of Scotland, vol. i. p. 184–188.

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